Anne Haug, Nicola Spirig seek European gold in Austria

This is a preview of the 2021 Europe Triathlon Middle Distance European Championships at Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee. You can click here for a full race report and results from Austria.

A busy Sunday will see the ‘official’ Europe Triathlon Middle Distance European Championships take place at Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee in the Tyrol region of Austria. Based on our previous event galleries, stunning scenery, perfect lakes and green fields will be in plentiful supply.

Challenge Walchsee - Photo Jose Luis Hourcade
No race number on this one!

There are no British athletes on the Elite start list this time (Katrina Matthews won this championship in 2019, when it was held in Târgu Mures), but there are still several notable names to watch out for.

Start time and how to watch

If you want a really long day of triathlon this Sunday, the good news is that you can start really early and watch this event live, before then having another nine hours of triathlon immediately afterwards, with IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene.

The Elite races in Austria start at 0830 local time (0730 in the UK) with the Men, followed by the Elite women five minutes later. Para. Age-Group and Aquabike athletes then follow – full start schedule is HERE.

The event will be broadcast live on the Challenge Family website and also on TriathlonLive.tv.

You’ll potentially find further updates on the Twitter Pages of Europe Triathlon (https://twitter.com/ETUtriathlon), Challenge Family (https://twitter.com/Challenge_Famil) and the Facebook pages of both too.

Who to watch – Pro Women

Similar, perhaps, to events in Elsinore, one could make a case that the women’s Elite race may well gain the lion’s share of the headlines. The standout names, without question, are Anne Haug and Nicola Spirig.

Haug of course is the 2019 IRONMAN World Champion and has also started the year with a win (but only just) at Challenge St. Poelten, also in Austria. She was also the runner-up at the 2020 PTO Championship, Challenge Daytona. Haug runs like the wind and has been incredibly consistent at the middle and long distances since moving away from the draft-legal World Triathlon scene in 2017.

Anne Haug / HUUB
Anne Haug – bids for European Middle Distance gold this weekend.

Spirig is no stranger to European Triathlon Championship titles – she has six over the Standard distance, her last success coming at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships. She’s also excelled at everything from Super League to IRONMAN with a couple of Olympic medals along the way.

Already this year the Swiss has won Challenge Gran Canaria and the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon. Most Olympic Games contenders don’t prepare by racing non-drafting middle distance races, but Spirig isn’t ‘most’ athletes. A similar approach resulted in a Gold medal at London 2012.

World Triathlon Cup Lisbon 2021
Nicola Spirig is set for a fascinating battle with Haug this weekend.

Spain’s Sara Perez Sala made an impressive middle distance debut at Challenge Miami this year and could contend, but on past record and form, you would have to predict that it will be Haug and Spirig battling for the Gold.

Who to watch – Pro Men

No IRONMAN World Champions or Olympic Gold medal winners on the men’s start list, but still some top-tier athletes.

Bart Aernouts (BEL) hasn’t won in Hawaii (yet), but in 2018 he did finish second! The highlight of his year to date was victory at IRONMAN 70.3 Florida. As always, he’ll have significant time to make up once out of the water – but as a former world and european duathlon champion, he’s trained to do just that.

KAILUA KONA, HI - OCTOBER 13: Bart Aernouts of Belgium (2nd place), Patrick Lange of Germany (1st place) and David McNamee of Great Britain (3rd place) celebrate after the IRONMAN World Championships brought to you by Amazon on October 13, 2018 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Nils Nilsen/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
Photo by Nils Nilsen/Getty Images for IRONMAN

Germany’s Frederic Funk produced one of the performances of his career at the end of May with a dominant victory at IRONMAN 70.3 St. Poelten, while another fast-improving athlete to watch, with home advantage, is Thomas Steger. He was fifth to Funk in that race, but three weeks previously had topped the podium at Challenge Riccione, Italy.

Prize Money

A total prize pot of €19,000 will be distributed 10-deep, as follows:

1st – €2,375
2nd – €1,900
3rd – €1,425
4th – €950
5th – €760
6th – €665
7th – €570
8th – €380
9th – €285
10th – €190

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